Budgeting, saving money and making wise financial decisions was never really something that I was particularly good at. However, a change in my job meant a significant drop in my monthly earnings, forcing me to adapt to a different lifestyle in order to be able to live happily within my means.
Admittedly, my situation was substantially easier to make changes than those with large mortgages and children, but I still had quite a few financial responsibilities that needed to be covered, along with the monthly rent and bills. It took some time, but advanced planning and organisation really helped me to stay on track…
Tips that may help you save money and organise your finances.
Work out a sensible budget and realistically look at where you can reduce your spending. Start with the necessities ie. rent/mortgage payments and bills. For things such as insurance or credit cards, shop around on comparison and finance sites to see if there are any deals available.
Look at ways in which you can reduce your utility bills. Make sure your windows are insulated. Close the curtains to keep heat in. Use a draft excluder. Replace your bulbs over time with LED’s. Turn off electrical items when they are not in use. Put on a sweater or snuggle up under a blanket rather than turning the heating up. In fact, by turning the thermostat down by just one degree you can save a substantial amount of money throughout the year. Open your windows instead of putting on the air con during the summer. Don’t use the tumble dryer for every load of laundry.
Do online banking and pay your bills online – there is often a charge added on for paper bills that are sent to your home.
Pay off the credit cards with a higher interest first.
Set up a savings account and create a direct debit payment into it each month. Cut up the card connected with it to avoid risk of compulsive spending. Even £5 a month will give you £60 by the end of the year.
Work out a weekly meal plan. Shop at low budget supermarkets – I get all of my fruit, vegetables and meat from these each week. If it is available, buy from local markets. Create some meals that require similar ingredients. Cook in bulk and freeze meals in advance. Don’t be afraid to purchase reduced items if you intend on eating them in the coming few days. Use coupons. Take advantage of 3 for 2 offers. Swap some of your usual branded items for store own brand. Re-use your own grocery bags. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water. Cut back on the amount of takeaways you have – one less weekly at a cost of £15.00 would save you £780 in a year. Eat leftovers for lunch or be mindful about how much food you are making. Cut down on the amount of unhealthy snacks you purchase.
Take advantage of cashback offers, particularly on electronics. The Bloke was given a cashback of hundreds of pounds with a purchase he made recently.
Realistically look at the amount of money that you spend on luxury items. Do you buy coffee every single day? What about snacks? Magazines? Cigarettes? Smoothies? Do you drink a glass of wine with dinner every evening? Do you have streaming services? What about make-up, clothes, accessories? Be honest with yourself and work out how much you spend on things that aren’t necessities – the results may be surprising.
Get rid of any unwanted subscriptions.
Quit smoking – good for the health and the wallet.
Sign up for points cards that can be used to redeem items at a later date. The Bloke and I have a particularly good one from a local supermarket, and last year we used our annual total points to pay for our entire Christmas shopping over a two-week period, along with a few extra presents.
Reduce your mobile phone spending to a lower amount where possible. After I have completed my contract, I always ring my provider and get a ‘sim only’ contract instead as I have paid for the handset – this always reduces my bill by at least £20. You could also switch to a pay-as-you-go. Note: in all of the years that I have had a monthly contract I have never received a call from my provider to tell me that the contract has ended – it is up to you to stay vigilant and not allow them to keep charging the same amount, which they will legally continue to do unless notified. You won’t be able to claim the money back afterwards.
Recycle, mend and get crafty! Sew up holes in clothing, re-purpose old sheets but cutting them up and using them for rags, quilting and handkerchiefs. Upcycle old furniture. Make your own birthday cards, or buy cards during sale periods.
Book holidays online, use comparison sites and talk to friends about potential deals they may be aware of. UK residents, did you know that it is often far cheaper to fly to North America via Europe rather than flying direct? Check out hostels instead of hotels – I stayed in a stunning hostel in Malaga that was about a tenth of the price of a hotel. Before going away, research free things to do in the area local to the place where you will be staying and plan activities in advance. For example, The Bloke and I went to London and did lots of things that cost almost nothing…
Walk or use public transport instead of driving. Less expensive, and environmentally friendly! The Bloke and I often get the bus into the city for which we purchase a day saver that allows us to travel on a many buses as you like for £4 each for the whole day – consider this against the average tariffs that are found within most car parks.. When in London, we use our contactless bank cards when travelling on the tube in Zones 1 and 2 – the amount you pay is capped at a very reasonable rate and far cheaper than purchasing a Zones1-4 ticket. If you have a good friend with children of a similar age, discuss the idea of car sharing. What about car sharing with colleagues?
Sell, sell, sell! Do you have unwanted items around your home that are in good condition? There are endless stores that will buy unwanted electronics, DVD’s and Blu Rays, gaming systems and games. Why not declutter some of your possessions and attend a car boot or host a yard sale? What about selling specialist items and collectibles on places like eBay?
Save a fortune on clothing by making your own, asking a favour from a crafty friend or purchasing them from charity shops. Buy materials from your local market.
Do you love make-up? Research into dupes for the more expensive items. Note – do not purchase fake products that have the same logo (these often contain harmful chemicals) – look at high street brands with the same colour palette or purpose as the designer ones. Don’t be afraid to ask for samples with any purchases that you make.
Look out for free events that are happening in your local area. Take advantage of cinema tickets or meal deals with insurance companies that you use.
Instead of paying for a gym membership, go outside!
If you are going out with friends, it may be cheaper to meet at someone’s house and have a few glasses of wine there first before spending exorbitant amount in bars and restaurants. Or, save even more money by hosting a pot-luck get-together, during which everyone brings a dish to your home.
Book train tickets weeks in advance. If The Bloke and I want to go to London, for example, we purchase tickets weeks ahead when there are offers for advanced single tickets and we travel very early in the morning when prices are cheaper. We also take advantage of the annual sale with a particular train company where tickets can be purchased for £4, as long as you travel at a specific time.
Join a library and borrow books from friends instead of purchasing them.
Cue angry parents: Be mindful of how much you are spending on children during celebrations. A three year-old child does not need £250 worth of presents and a birthday party with a £100 cake. Do you remember what you received for your third birthday? I once went to the birthday party of an incredibly loved and very cute toddler and he was blessed with an unbelievable amount of presents. He opened them, smiled and yelled a bit and then spent half the day with a cardboard box on his head. Think about it.
Worried about having to purchase gifts? Buy gifts after Christmas for the coming year. Create a gift draw that can be filled with things that are purchased during sale offers. Reuse gift bags. Cut out old cards to create gift tags. Look out for free gifts that come with purchases. Make crafty presents – a friend of mine used her sewing skills to craft a gorgeous tee-pee for her friend’s child for their birthday. And… re-gift unwanted items (gasp!)
Do you have a talent or skill that could earn you extra money? Can you sew, craft or play an instrument? Do you have great computer skills and an understanding of social media? Note: In the UK you have to declare any money made with HMRC and will possibly be liable to pay tax for any work that you are paid for.
Getting married? Here’s how The Bloke and I got married for less than £5,000.
Don’t be afraid to say that you can’t afford to go somewhere or do something. It’s always difficult when friends earn more than you do and may live a more extravagant lifestyle, but there’s no shame in saying no to something when you don’t have the money.
Be mindful of every single thing that you purchase. Before you buy, ask yourself if you really need it and be honest.
What about you guys? What advice do you have for saving money?
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